Spring and summer hunting and fishing
With each warming day, thoughts of bird hunting, fishing, berry-picking, and camping are in our thoughts again. As the late Peter Jacobs used to tell us in his Monday morning call-in talk show, we need to start planning for the coming spring and summer harvest season, even now. In his words, “while the tide is very low,” (envagauluku, upetnarqaakut).
With record snow accumulation everywhere, I already hear comments of potential excellent berry growth this summer. “Nuna-gguq cirmiraa”.
Just as farmers start plowing and planting early for the growing season, so do we catch and dry fish in the early drying months of summer.
Last summer was excellent for the tundra villages…at least for my wife and I. All of our salmon harvest was ‘cool’ dried and put into our smokehouse to be smoked with very few houseflies about. “No paraluqs.”
Here in the tundra wetlands, we fish and dry pike even before break-up. And most of us start drying whitefish right after break-up. And ciscos as we call the pointed nose whitefish that arrive with the pike. The cingikeggliq, as we call them, dry quickly. And after a day or two of smoking they are ready to be eaten.
My wife and I usually try to have them ready for camping in Baird Inlet, so that we may have fresh dried fish, as the only fish there is pike.
Many an elder used to tell us boys to fish while they are available and put them away for the long winter months that are sure to come. In days before electricity, every food source was dried, while some was stored in salt brine barrels. Even berries and green plants were stored in barrels, because none will grow during the long winter months.
We were told not to be lazy, and to get up early in the morning and not sleep in. Especially then, when hunting and fishing were our only means of survival. Without these food sources, families experience hunger throughout time. If not for government assistance, and store bought food...hard times would be upon us also.
Out planet’s population has exceeded seven billion people, and food resources may be harder to come by in the future. So, let us be thankful that we have yet to experience hunger as many around the earth suffer; from what our ancestors who have experienced it...describe as the most excruciating pain man can experience.